Mergers and acquisitions took center stage in 2016 corporate travel dynamics. New players like Anbang’s Wu Xiaohui and tech investment mogul Robert Smith brought the drama, in the form of last-minute bids in one case and shrewd defiance toward regulators in the other. Meanwhile, recognized names like AccorHotels' Sebastien Bazin revealed novel growth strategies, and American Express Global Business Travel’s Evan Konwiser mixed it up with a major technology buy. Bradley Tilden announced early that Alaska Airlines would ride the U.S. carrier consolidation wave with Virgin America but only barely cleared regulatory hurdles by the end of the year.
There’s more to corporate travel influence, however, than who owns what. Government officials pepper the 2016 list with market impacts that range from deal breaking to data protections to discriminatory legislation. Four major travel buyers made their marks this year implementing big direct connect strategies, busting old myths, boosting new entrants and partnering to push innovative solutions to the industry. And if you’re looking for disruptors, BTN’s 2016 list has those, too.